Rule Britannia lyrics: What are the words of Rule Britannia?

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Originally, Great Britain was known as ‘Albion’ by the Romans, who invaded in 55BC, but the name quickly changed to Britannia. This Latin word referred to England and Wales, but was no longer used for a while after the Romans left. The name was revived again during the age of the Empire, when it had much more significance. The word ‘Britannia’ comes from ‘Pretannia’, a term Ancient Greek used for the Pretani people, who were believed to have lived in Britain at the time. Since then, the song has become largely symbolic of Britain.

Rule Britannia lyrics

Rule, Britannia! Britannia, rule the waves!
Britons never, never, never shall be slaves.
When Britain first, at heaven’s command,
Arose from out the azure main,
This was the charter of the land,

And Guardian Angels sang this strain:
The nations not so blest as thee
Must, in their turn, to tyrants fall,
While thou shalt flourish great and free:
The dread and envy of them all.

Still more majestic shalt thou rise,
More dreadful from each foreign stroke,
As the loud blast that tears the skies
Serves but to root thy native oak.
Thee haughty tyrants ne’er shall tame;
All their attempts to bend thee down

Will but arouse thy generous flame,
But work their woe and thy renown.
To thee belongs the rural reign;
Thy cities shall with commerce shine;
All thine shall be the subject main,
And every shore it circles, thine.

The Muses, still with freedom found,
Shall to thy happy coasts repair.
Blest isle! with matchless beauty crowned,
And manly hearts to guard the fair.
Rule, Britannia! Britannia, rule the waves!
Britons never, never, never shall be slaves

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Rule Britannia being performed at the Last Night of the Proms has proved controversial in recent months, with many people saying the song promotes a dark part of Britain’s history.

Chi-chi Nwanoku, who runs the Chineke! Orchestra which performed at the Proms in 2017 and 2019, said: “We find it offensive.

“For any conscious Black person who is aware of their history, the empires and colonialism, for example, they will struggle to enjoy the patriotic jingoism of these songs.”

While the BBC originally scrapped the song from the last night, a U-turn was made and the plans reinstated to perform Rule Britannia.

The BBC’s decision to play an instrumental version instead of one with the song’s lyrics prompted Prime Minister Boris Johnson to intervene.

Mr Johnson said: “I cannot believe… that the BBC is saying they will not sing the words of Land of Hope and Glory or Rule Britannia as they traditionally do at the end of the Last Night of the Proms.

“I think it’s time we stopped our coining embarrassment of our history, about our traditions, and about our culture, and we stopped this general bout of self recrimination and wetness.”

Nonetheless, the issue of the songs, deemed racist by some, has left people in Britain divided.

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